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Resistance against Moroccan colonialism in the Rif: 1958 / 1959

Abdelkrim el Khattabi, photo: internet

The Rif was always an independent and autonomous area despite the fact that part of it was occupied. In this area they repeatedly and fiercely resisted various occupiers, such as Portugal, Spain and the sultans of Fes and Marrakech.
In the course of time, several sovereign states were founded by the Riffians, such as the state of Nekour and the state of Amejjaou. Perhaps the last state they founded was the ‘Arifublik’ inspired by the creation of the French Republic after the fall of the royal house, there. Maybe this was the reason to revolt against the ‘Emirate system’ and, following the European example (with which the Riffians always maintained a lot of contact) to create their own form of state: the Arifublik.

When Spain attempted to occupy the Rif at the beginning of the last century, it met with fierce resistance from the Riffians. The Spaniards had and number of defeats to collect resulting in the final defeat at the battle of Anoual, which therefore played an important role in the creation of Rif republic in 1921.

Concept Riffian banknote, photo: internet

On September 18, 1921, under the leadership of Mohammed Abdelkrim al Khattabi (1882-1963), the Rif state was proclaimed. A state with its own government, parliament, anthem, currency, army, etc.
The European colonial powers saw in this young state a threat because the proclamation of an independent state by the Riffians could be seen as an example by other occupied peoples and as a source of inspiration.
For this reason, Spain, ‘Morocco’, the USA, Germany and France formed an international coalition. The US supplied pilots (mercenaries), Germany supplied poison gas and France, together with Spain, sent about half a million soldiers to the Rif.

During this war, which lasted from 1921 to 1927, this coalition did not hesitate to use poison gas against unarmed civilians. The president of the Rif, Mohammed Abdel Krim el Khattabi, turned to the international community, but there was no reaction from this quarter.
That is why he was forced to surrender to France in 1926, who then banished him to Reunion, an island in the Indian Ocean. The Rif fell largely under Spanish and partly under French rule. In 1956, the Rif was handed over to Morocco.

Khalid Bouyaala, screenshot facebook page: Arif s Tiṭṭawin n Irifiyen

The establishment of Moroccan authority in the Rif created tensions among the Riffians. This was caused by the replacement of Riffian officials by new Moroccan officials who behaved feudally.
This eventually culminated in the People’s Revolt of 1958 and 1959.
This revolt was brutally crushed, with the Moroccan authorities not shying away from mass murders, rapes and destruction of crops. These crimes against humanity are the subject of a transcription of a web lecture in the Tarifit, given in 2019 by the Riffian linguist Khalid Bouyaala, edited and translated by the editors of Amazigh Information Center.

In the Riffian Language this rebellion is known by several names such as; Asgwas Iqebban (the year of helmets) or Asgwas n Tfadist (the year of mastic tree) and the Moroccan researcher and historian Zaki M’Barek (1940-2019) calls it the ‘evacuation rebellion’.

The economic situation in the Rif after Moroccan independence was bad. The Rif lived from traditional agriculture and is therefore dependent on rainfall. After 1956 a period of drought started in the Rif which lasted two years. This was already disastrous, on top of that the income from seasonal labor stopped. The independence war of 1954 in Algeria prevented many Riffians from travelling there for a living.
The Algerian resistance against France, which had occupied the country since 1830, also deepened the economic crisis in the Rif.
As mentioned earlier, the Moroccan government replaced the colonial officials. However, these ‘Moroccan’ officials were poorly informed about the situation in the Rif. For example, they had not realized that the Riffians did not speak Arabic and/or French, but their own language and/or, if they were better educated, Spanish, because this was used by the colonial rulers present at the time and they were suddenly sidelined.

In addition, these officials behaved arrogantly towards the Rif people. It could be that a man went with his mother, wife, sister or daughter to a town hall for an administrative act, then it was demanded of him (often in a language incomprehensible to him) that the women had to take their headscarves off. In the Rif this is interpreted as provocation.
Another problem is that the Spanish money the Peseta was replaced by the French currency the Franc, as a result of which the Spanish money available to the Rif was suddenly worthless.
Moreover, the Moroccans imposed taxes on the Riffians, for example those who have fertile trees such as fig trees counted them and taxes were charged on them, the same goes for animals such as sheep and cows.
So because of all this, there was no longer any prospect of life for the Riffians in their own country and they rebelled against Moroccan officials, claiming their rights.

ALN parade in Nador around 1955, photo: mondeberbere.com

But not only the economic situation forced the Riffians to revolt. The political situation also led to the protests and resistance.
At that time the Istiqlal, of Ahmed Balafrej, Allal al Fassi and Mehdi Ben Barka was the largest party. This party pursued a one-party system, as in Tunisia. But at that time several political actors were active. Such as the party of Choura & Istqlal, of the palace itself, the liberation army ALN, France, Spain and Mohammed Abdelkrim el Khattabi.

This was the time of the negotiations with France on the ‘independence of Morocco’. It was also the time when the ALN, led by Abbas Messaadi (1925-1956), fought an armed struggle against the occupiers of the Reef just after these negotiations began. The ALN was allied with the Riffian president in exile Mohammed Abdelkrim el Khattabi. He declared that the fight against colonization in North Africa will continue until all soldiers of the occupiers have left the Maghreb countries.
This worried the French rulers because they feared that with Morocco’s independence, the ALN would continue its armed struggle in Algeria, as they were striving for a completely independent Maghreb.

It was for this reason that the Sultan of Morocco, Mohammed V (1909-1961), informed France that he controlled the ALN. In addition, the Istiqlal party wanted to include the ALN in his party in order to encapsulate ALN’s power.

Abbas Messaadi, photo: mondeberbere.com

The leader of ALN, Abbas Messaadi, was murdered on July 27, 1956, according to the royal palace he was killed by order of Mehdi Ben Barka (1920-1965). A proposal was made to the ALN: integrate in the Moroccan army FAR, or join the resistance against the Spanish troops in southern Morocco, or fight against French troops in Algeria. Approximately 5,000 ALN fighters joined FAR, and some of them joined the resistance in southern Morocco. They were destroyed in a joint Spanish and French military operation called Ouragan / Écouvillon.

The sultan felt threatened by the ALN and by the Istiqlal party. The latter got too much power. And so the idea arose to play the two off against each other. First, in order to create balance in the political arena, a new political party was founded: the Mouvement Populaire (MP) he left the execution to a former officer of the French army Mahjoubi Aherdan (1921-2020) and the doctor Abdelkrim al Khatib (1921-2008). These two figures decided to respond to the feelings of the Riffians, who were in a hopeless situation. They took the initiative to reburial Abbas Messaadi, who was buried in Fes, in 1958 in his native soil, in Ajdir (Izennayen), but he originally came from Ayt Atta.

On the left: Mahjoubi Aherdan, right: Abdelkrim al Khatib, photo: RT

The ruling Istiqlal party opposed this reburial. The anger focused on the Moroccan government who wanted to prevent the reburial of their resistance hero. Of course, the action of Mahjoubi Aherdan and Abdelkrim al Khatib was not born out of love for the Riffs, they wanted to create a split between their two opponents and they succeeded. The Riffians set fire to the offices of Istiqlal, with which the action of the agitators Mahjoubi Aherdan and Abdelkrim al Khatib had succeeded.

With that the rebellion in the Rif is a fact. The crisis in the Rif has been seized by others to pursue their political goals. After the release of Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian (1925-1995) from prison, he was visited by Riffians who complained about the crisis, the tyranny of the Istiqlal party and asked him for advice.

He declared that he did everything in his power to prevent them from engaging in armed combat because they did not have any weapons at their disposal; this crisis had to be resolved with common sense.
To this end, a committee was set up to conduct the negotiations. This committee consisted of: Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian, an uncle of his Muhand Amezian, son of Abdelkrim Khattabi, Rachid Khattabi and a few resistance fighters who fought together with Abdelkrim against the occupiers. And there is a set of demands, the son of Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian speaks about 17 demands, while the anthropologist David Montgomery Hart (1927-2001) speaks about 18 demands.

Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian, photo: courrierdurif.com

For example, they demanded that all foreign armies should leave the Reef, Abdelkrim el Khattabi should return to the Rif. All political parties had to be disbanded in order to form a national government, release all prisoners and accelerate the Arabization. Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian says that they were received by King Mohammed V who promised to meet the demands. He even says that a few demands have actually been met. According to the son of Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian, Ben Barka changed the king’s mind. He told him that the Riffians were looking for independence. At the same time, the Riffians sent all Moroccan officials out of the Rif.

Sellam Amezian’s uncle, Muhand Amezian, told him that for six months no Moroccan soldier was seen in the Rif, but other sources speak of 3 months. The Moroccan government was under the assumption that if they weren’t present on the Rif, the Rifs would get into conflict with each other, but the opposite happened. It surprised the government that it stayed so quiet in the Rif, that the people didn’t kill each other and that the Riffians governed themselves. That made them so worried that it was decided to intervene in the Rif with a large military force.
The New York Times reported on October 28, 1958 that Morocco declared the Rif a military area, namely the triangle Al Hoceima, Nador and Aknoul, because the Rif people protested against repression and the treatment by Moroccan officials in the Rif.

On 18 November 1958, the army held a military parade in Tétouan. The New York Times of 17 November 1958 writes that “the King chose Tétouan as the venue for the annual military parade” originally planned in the southern city of Marrakech. The parade of almost half of the armed forces would not just be a simple display of power. The parade was considered as an excuse to bring the army discreetly to the north of Morocco”.
More than three-quarters of the FAR’s troops were sent to the Rif. The head of this large army was Crown Prince Hassan (1929-1999) who held the position of chief of staff of the army. His younger brother Abdellah Al Alaoui (1935-1983) also went to Rif at that time to see the ‘show’ up close.

Moroccan government, Rabat, December 1958, Photo: Jacques Belin / Getty Images

Then there was a terrible massacre: heavy war machines such as tanks and airplanes were used against defenceless people in the Rif. There are reports about the use of napalm bombs. Victims testify to mass rapes of both men and women, the bellies of the pregnant Rif women were ripped open by Moroccan soldiers who gambled on whether the fetus was a boy or a girl, the harvest was stolen or set on fire.

The Al Hoceima region was declared a military area at that time by a decree, which is still in force today. According to academics, the number of victims is between 8 and 10 thousand dead, activists speak of more than 20,000 dead.
Before the military actions in the Rif were started, a government was formed from members of the Istiqlal party, as a kind of reparation for the fact that their offices in the Rif were set on fire.
The Istiqlal was the instrument and the palace is the principal. This was evident from a speech by King Hassan II in January 1984, in which he called upon the Reefs who do not yet know Hassan II to re-read history and pay special attention to what Prince Hassan did in the Rif in 1958/59, in other words: “I punished the Riffians in 1958/1959 and if you reclaim your rights I will do the same again”.

Abdelkrim el Khattabi asked King Mohammed V, during a visit in 1960, what the Moroccan army did to the Rif. Muhammad V answered that the Riffians shouldn’t have rebelled against their king. Abdelkrim replied that this was not the case, the Rif had rebelled against the Spanish and French occupying armies in the Rif. To which Mohammed V added “I promise you that within three years from now, there will be no more foreign soldiers in the Rif.

On the left: Mohammed V, right Abdelkrim el Khattabi. Photo: Internet

There is evidence to the contrary, for example that Abdelkrim el Khattabi sent a letter to Mohamed Hassan Ouazzani (1910-1978) on July 27, 1960, in which he states that planes with French pilots, at that time Morocco had not yet attacked war planes, villages and markets in the Rif, in this letter Abdelkrim el Khattabi details how many people were abducted, how many women were murdered and other information about the victims of Moroccan military operations in the Rif.

Mahjoubi Aherdan denies the repression against the Riffians and speaks of restoring order in the Rif. But a few weeks before the uprising, he declares to the AFP that Morocco’s independence is due to the Riffians, which is ambiguous to say the least.

The winners of this rebellion are France and the royal palace, the Riffians paid for it with their blood, the Istiqlal also came out as a loser although it played a dubious role.

The first battle the Moroccan army fought was against the Rif. At that time, the palace and the Istiqlal planned to build a highway they called unity, a road that would unite the Rif with Morocco. If Morocco and the Rif were one, why did this road get this name?

Muhend, an uncle of Sellam Amezian, says that when Spain handed over the Rif to Morocco, the autonomy of the Rif under Spanish administration was discussed, and this is logical for a country that is occupied.
There are issues that still need to be investigated such as: what did the elite mean for Abdelkrim el Khattabi? And why did he only send weapons to the Rif?
With Morocco’s independence in 1956, the Moroccan colonization of the Rif began.

Link to the video in Tarift


1) Mustafa Aarab, De vergeten geschiedenis van het Marokkaanse Rif (2009) [NL]
2) Germain Ayache, La guerre du Rif (1981) [FR]
3) Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse, La guerre du Rif (2008) [FR]
4) Ignace Dalle, Les trois rois: la monarchie marocaine, de l’indépendance à nos jours (2004) [FR]
5) La mémoire d’un roi. Hassan II, (entretiens avec Eric Laurent) (1993) [FR]
6) Remy Leveau, Le Fellah marocain: défenseur du trône (1985) [FR]
7) Maâti Monjib, La monarchie marocaine et la lutte pour le pouvoir (1992) [FR]
8) Gilles Perrault, Notre ami le roi (1990) [FR]
9) John Waterbury, Le commandeur des croyants: la monarchie Marocaine et son élite (1975) [FR] / John Waterbury,
The Commander of the Faithful: the Moroccan political elite — a study in segmented politic (1970) [EN]
10) Research of Ahmed Zahid, ‘Intifadat al rif 1958/1959 al dakira wa al tarikh’ (2005) [AR]

For more information on this topic see:

Video Compilation about the Moroccan army [FR/NL]
Testimony of a victim of crimes committed by the Moroccan regime in the Rif [AR/NL]
French army shoots the Riffians with heavy weapons
Testimony of a pilot about bombing of Rif (AR/NL)
Documentary about the revolt of the Rif 1958/1959 [RIF/EN]
King Hassan II speech, January 1984 [AR/NL]


Transtaltion: Najat M.

Freedom of religion and belief in Morocco

©Hanan Isachar

The King of Morocco, Muhammad VI, ordered his ambassador in France to donate money for the reconstruction of Notre Dame in April 2019: “At the very high instruction of King Muhammad VI, the Kingdom of Morocco will contribute financially to the reconstruction of Notre Dame in Paris”. The Twitter post of the Moroccan embassy in France has announced. Officially no specific amount was mentioned, but on social media an amount of 200 million dollars has been circulating.

Ahmed Younes

The Riffian journalist Ahmed Younes commented on Morocco’s donation on Facebook: ‘The Notre-Dame Cathedral contains works of art that France has stolen from North Africa’. The journalist does not reveal any details of the French art theft.

North Africa has a Christian history, as the philosopher and church father Augustine of Hippo was born in present-day Algeria.

Moroccans who converted to Christianity were not allowed to enter the churches in Morocco. These churches, which usually date from colonial times, are only meant for non-Moroccans.

The American Department of State estimates the number of Moroccan Christians at more than 40,000. The American think tank and opinion research agency, Pew Research Center, estimates the number at 20,000.

Brother Ali

Choosing between work and religion

A young Moroccan named Brother Ali* grew up in a Moroccan Muslim family. He went to work for the Moroccan gendarmerie and became a member of a unit in charge of securing the king and his family. He converted to the Christian faith, when his employer found out he was transferred to a barracks in Rabat with no function. Then a wave of intimidation began, forcing him to resign from the gendarmerie.

Every Moroccan is a Muslim

According to Moroccan law, all Moroccans but a small Jewish minority are Muslims. Any attempt to convert a Muslim is illegal. Article 220 of the Moroccan Penal Code says that “anyone who uses incitement to separate a Muslim from his religion or to convert him to another religion may be punished with 3 to 6 months’ imprisonment and a fine of 200 to 500 dirhams.”

Jamaa Ait Bakrim (1964), a Moroccan convert, received a bachelor’s degree in political science. In the last century he fled to Europe and applied for asylum in the Netherlands, but that was rejected. In 1993 he returned to Morocco. He did not keep his new religion secret and this caused him problems with the authorities, he was sentenced to seven months in prison. He was then placed in a psychiatric hospital.
In the islamic countries everyone who distances himself from the islam is portrayed as a psychiatric patient.

Jamaa Ait Bakrim

5 years imprisonment

Jamaa Ait Bakrim was convicted for the second time and was imprisoned for a year. After serving his prison sentence, he set fire to two wooden electricity poles in 2005, because they had been out of use for a long time and blocked the entrance to his business. He had often asked the municipality to remove the poles, but without success. So Ait Bakrim cleaned them up himself, but that was a criminal offence. Add to that the fact that Ait Bakrim spoke honestly about his faith. Jamaa Ait Bakrim was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment by the court.

Pope’s visit without results

Known Moroccan convert is Brother Rachid, the author of the book The Ideology Behind Islamic Terrorism 2018, he is also a TV program maker. In a video message on his Youtube channel, he comments on the Pope’s visit to Morocco on 30 and 31 March 2019: “We Moroccan Christians are very disappointed in the King of Morocco who, in his speech in the presence of the Pope, said that he is the leader of the faithful, including Jews and foreign Christians who are in Morocco”. [not of the Moroccan convert].

Brother Rachid

Brother Rachid wonders why Moroccan Christians were not allowed into Moroccan churches, why they have to marry according to Islamic rituals, why they are obliged to follow Islamic education, why they have to bury their dead in an Islamic way.

King Mohammed VI gave a speech during the pope’s visit in four languages (not in Tamazight, the mother tongue of Moroccans, which was only recognized as an official language in 2011), Rachid called on the king to speak in another language: the language of human rights.

Death penalty chases non-Muslims

The High Council of Moroccan Ulema’s (Islamic legal scholars) issued a fatwa in 2012 that makes it possible to execute people who have formally distanced themselves from Islam. Muslims from movements other than those of the state can also be considered apostates: for example the Ibadites, the Ahmadi-Muslims and the Shiites.

Monarchy is based on Islam

The Moroccan monarchy derives its legitimacy from the state Islam established by France during the official occupation of Morocco between 1912 and 1956. The position of the king is enshrined in the constitution, so it is not allowed to criticise the king and his family.

The king was presented in Morocco as the deputy to God on earth. With the title of leader of the faithful, he forced the entire people into submission. Even if he uses violence against his subjects, they are not allowed to distance themselves from him, for this there are texts in the Koran that justify all this

*Interview in which Brother Ali had made his revelations (Arabic)


Translation: Najat M.

General Ahmed Dlimi: coup leader or victim of sex scandal?

Ahmed Dlimi, Photo: Maroc Hebdo

Ahmed Dlimi made a career in the Moroccan army. This young army, also known as Forces Armées Royales, was officially founded on May 14, 1956. The name Dlimi is as infamous as that of the army he served. Both are characterized by arbitrariness, corruption, abuse of power and violence. The regime and the army are still in power, Ahmed Dlimi is not. His career ended as it had turned out with violence and scandals.

At the time Dlimi’s career took off, the armed forces consisted largely of soldiers who had served in the French and Spanish colonial armies. Well-known senior officers of this army were Generals Kettani Ben Hamou (1910 – 1965) and Mohamed Ben Mizzian Al Kassem (1897 – 1975). Their careers began in the colonial armies and they were the first Moroccans to be promoted to the rank of general.

The first achievements of this army were the bloody and violent repression of popular protests both in their own country and in Algeria. Notorious is the suppression of popular resistance in the Rif in 1958 and 1959. The rulers and the army did not hesitate to use poison gas and napalm against unarmed civilians. In 1963 it fought and lost a border dispute with neighboring Algeria, the so-called Sand War. And in 1975, Morocco became involved in the protracted Western Sahara War.

The same army was deployed against protesters in the Rif in 1984, who peacefully demonstrated against increases in the price of important foodstuffs. Many people were killed and injured.

In 1972, after the second military coup attempt, Hassan II convened his chief army officers and delivered the following message: “If I may give you good advice, I advise you to step back from political affairs and instead focus on making money”. In doing so, he introduced corruption within the military and at the same time implemented a reorganization in which the functions of defense secretary and chief of staff of the armed forces were abolished. Officer Ahmed Dlimi attended this meeting.

Left King Hassan II, right Colonel Ahmed Dlimi, Paris 1963. Photo: Getty Images

Disappearance of Ben Barka

Ahmed Dlimi was born in 1931 in Sidi Kacem, to a family descended from the Oulad Dlim clan from Western Sahara. These clan members have served in the armies of the Moroccan sultans since time immemorial. Lahcen Dlimi’s father was a translator for the French occupier at the time of the protectorate.

Dlimi studied at the French officer school Dar el Beida in Meknes and became a lieutenant there in 1953. In 1958, after an internship in France, he married the daughter of the Moroccan Minister of the Interior and friend of King Mohamed V, Messaoud Chiguer.

After her father was released from his ministerial post, he divorced her. Dlimi remarried the same year to Zahra Bouselham, a daughter of a family close to the Oufkirs.

In his position as an army officer he was involved in the violent crackdown on the popular protest in the Rif in late 1958 and early 1959. He then worked briefly for military intelligence. He was then appointed head of CAB-1, the Moroccan internal secret service, predecessor of the current DGST Direction Général de Surveillance du Territoire.

And as deputy police director, Dlimi was taken into custody by French authorities for involvement in the disappearance of Ben Barka on October 29, 1965 in Paris. Mehdi Ben Barka was leader of the opposition and opponent of King Hassan II. Dlimi was acquitted after remand in the Parisian prison of La Santé. Shortly afterwards, in 1967, Hassan II Dlimi was promoted to the rank of colonel.

Coup d’état

Colonel Dlimi was appointed General Director of the Police in 1970, headed by the Minister of the Interior, General Oufkir. Subsequently, Dlimi was appointed director of Royal Adjutants. Thus the colonel worked his way up to become an important security adviser to Hassan II.

Dlimi’s name was on the death list of the coup plotters during the failed coup of July 10, 1971 in Skhirat. He narrowly escaped death by hiding with a small entourage of Hassan II and escaping the coup plotters.

During the second coup d’état on August 16, 1972, he and King Hassan II were on board the plane that was shot at by fighter jets of the Moroccan army. After the emergency landing at Rabat-Sale airport, he managed to get Hassan II and himself to safety by quickly leaving the plane with a weapon at the ready. Dlimi wanted to liquidate the commander of the Moroccan Air Force, Colonel Hassan Lyoussi, immediately. Hassan II prevented him from doing so because he wanted to get the plans for this coup out of Colonel Lyoussi.

Dlimi saw an opportunity to retaliate against the coup plotters by acting as a magistrate of the military court during the trial of Oufkir and his fellow coup plotters.

Counterintelligence Service

Ahmed Dlimi. Photo: Maroc Hebdo

His role during and after the two failed coups helped Dlimi increase his influence and power. After all, there were few confidants left of Hassan II. The people around Oufkir had been executed or jailed. Dlimi was present at the liquidation of Oufkir in Hassan II’s palace in Skhirat. Dlimi is said to have fired at Oufkir together with General Hafid Alalui, after which King Hassan II gave him the final shot.

Colonel Dlimi reformed the intelligence services and in 1973 created the current counterintelligence & foreign security service, the DGED (Direction Générale des Etudes et de la Documentation), over which he was put in charge.

After two coup attempts, Hassan II froze the promotion of his army officers. Dlimi was exempted from this and was promoted to general, in 1975 Dlimi was appointed Commander of the Southern Military Zone, of the so-called “Sahara Army,” the army that waged war against Polisario. Thus Dlimi was put in charge of about 75% of the Moroccan army.

Rich General

Dlimi was one of the richest businessmen in Morocco and owned many businesses. In business he followed the example of the CIA: setting up companies to provide the organization with additional and invisible income. Dlimi did it that way too, and he personally benefited from the profits of the businesses he set up.

He was the first to open an Adidas outlet in Morocco. He registered this company under the name of an ex-army officer and politician, Colonel Abdellah Kadiri (1937 – 2019). The latter said in an interview: “Dlimi told me that in Hassan II’s Morocco you are never sure of anything, today I am a general and what I am tomorrow I do not know. This company (Adidas) is insurance for my children”.

Traffic accident or liquidation?

Funeral of General Ahmed Dlimi on January 27, 1983 in Rabat, Morocco. Photo: Getty Images

Moroccan state media reported Dlimi’s death on January 25, 1983. His car would have collided head-on with a truck and he would not have survived this traffic accident. He was on his way home from a visit to the king in Marrakech. Marrakech residents say Dlimi’s car was said to have been hit by explosives.

No one has seen the remains, not even his family and relatives, because the coffin was immediately sealed.

The truck involved was later found, but there was no trace of the driver. The truck would have been stolen. This accident may be a coincidence, but such an accident raises questions for high-ranking victims and certainly a close associate of the king.

According to Ahmed Rami (1946), former adjutant of Oufkir, now living in Sweden and now a radical Muslim, General Dlimi was planning a coup against the king.

Hassan II had heard of this and ordered the general to be killed. The international media such as Le Monde, took over Rami’s story. Gilles Perrault, author of the book “A Friendly Head of State, Hassan II of Morocco, Absolute Monarch” (1990), also devoted a chapter on Dlimi and his death, including Rami’s version.

Sex photos as a motive for attack

A completely different version can be found in the book ‘Les officiers de Sa Majesté: Les Dérives des Généraux Marocains 1956–2006‘ (His Majesty’s officers: the instincts of the Moroccan generals 1956–2006) by Commander Mahjoub Tobji (1942), the former adjutant of Dlimi.

Left Ahmed Dlimi, middle Mahjoub Tobji. Photo: Internet

It says that General Dlimi had “ears and eyes” everywhere in Morocco as an intelligence officer, even in the palaces of Hassan II.

For example, Dlimi found out that Mohamed Médiouri (1938), head of the Département de Protection Royale (head of Hassan II bodyguards unit), had a sexual relationship with the king’s wife, Latifa Amahzoune (1946). Dlimi is said to have informed the king of this and thus signed his own death warrant. In Hassan II’s Morocco such knowledge was not allowed and certainly not passed on, not even to the king.

Dlimi would even have photos of Médiouri and Latifa in bed together. He is said to have blackmailed Médiouri, who then sought help from Dlimi’s rival General Housni Benslimane (1935), the commander of the Royal Gendarmerie. He and Dlimi were engaged in a power struggle. Colonel Benslimane saw an opportunity to neutralize his powerful rival. He would then have received the green light from the king to end the general’s life.

Hicham Dlimi, a cousin of the general, released another version in January 2011. In an interview with the French weekly Valeurs Actuelles, he said the following:

Dlimi was very subservient to the king and thus became his best confidant. A yes or no from the king could only be obtained through Dlimi.

Left Ahmed Dlimi right Driss Basri. Photo: Maroc Hebdo

On the day of his death, he was visiting a friend in Rabat. This friend is said to have warned Dlimi about the Minister of the Interior, Driss Basri (1938 – 2007). After his visit he went to his house in the villa district of Palmeraie in Marrakech, on arrival he was summoned by the king to the palace there.

The king would have reproached him there. Dlimi is said to have tried to refute these accusations and to make it clear to the king who spread these rumors and accusations, namely director of Hassan’s protocol general Hafid el Alaoui (1910 – 1989), Driss Basri, Ahmed Réda Guédira (1922 – 1995), (one adviser to the king) and Mohamed Médiouri.

After this interview, Dlimi returned home. A small truck would have blocked the way near his house. Dlimi is said to have driven an armored Mercedes with his driver, both heavily armed. When the driver of Dlimi tried to reverse that side of the road was blocked by an Audi. When the armored vehicle was fired from this car, this had no effect. Dlimi and his driver are said to have fired back and survived this first attack.

They failed to repulse the second attack by another group and Dlimi and his driver were killed. Dlimi’s body was placed under the truck and the driver’s body set on fire in the Mercedes. Dlimi’s gardener and the imam who washed his remains have been murdered. A friendly soldier who saw the remains before the coffin was sealed is said to have reported to the general’s nephew that his body was riddled with bullets.

One’s dead is another’s bread

Dlimi’s functions were later divided between the three soldiers: Colonel Major Abdelaziz Bennani (1935 – 2015) became Commander of the Southern Sector; Colonel Major Mohammed Cherkaoui (1922 – 2002) became Director of the Cabinet of the Royal Adjutants and Colonel Abdelhaq Kadiri (1934 – 2017) became Director General of the counterintelligence service DGED.

In various files on human rights violations in Morocco and in testimonials of victims, the name of General Dlimi is mentioned repeatedly. He is said to have personally tortured and assaulted the opponents of Hassan II, but it never came to a lawsuit, even his own death has not been investigated. General Dlimi’s family did not speak publicly about the cause of death, perhaps this is why they do not suffer from reprisals as was the case with the Oufkir family.

Source https://amazighinformatiecentrum.medium.com/is-de-marokkaanse-generaal-dlimi-slachtoffer-van-seksschandaal-664b668b4a50

Translation: Najat M.

Kettani Ben Hammou, from collaborator to CIA informant

Kettani Ben Hammou and Crown Prince Hassan. Casablanca, November 1956. Photo: Mohamed Moradji

Contrary to the refusal of many ordinary Moroccan and Riffian families to cooperate with the colonial occupier, a small Moroccan elite thought otherwise. For example, during the French and Spanish protectorates (1912 – 1956), ordinary families often refused to send their children to the colonial schools and prevented them from serving in the colonial army, although they were obliged to do so according to the Moroccan sultan Abd el Aziz ibn Hassan (1878 – 1943) and the European occupiers. They needed the North African people to fight their colonial wars.

A small and rich Moroccan elite saw the colonial system and schools as the way to a successful career for their children. They sent their children to European schools and universities or military academies. In this way, they and their children had access to political and military key positions, even after the departure of the occupying forces from Morocco. Kettani Ben Hammou was one of them.

Kettani Ben Hammou was born in Berrechid, near Casablanca, in 1910. He trained at the French military school Dar-El-Beida in Meknés. He joined the French army in 1923. He belonged to the Tabors, a unit composed entirely of Moroccans. With this unit, which he later took charge of, he took part in several military expeditions in Tunisia, Italy, France and Germany. Until he was wounded twice in 1944, and was decorated.

General Kettani Ben Hammou. Paris September 19, 1955, Copyright: Topfoto

General Kettani Ben Hammou was called up to work for the French Resident General in Morocco after the Second World War. He then continued his training at the l’École Supérieure de Guerre, a French academy for senior officers.

This Colonel Kettani ben Hammou was promoted to general in August 1954 in the French newspaper Le Monde. Thus Ben Hammou became the first Moroccan with the rank of general in the French army. This timing was important, because two years later France would ‘leave’ Morocco. From that moment on, Ben Hammou’s general stars were able to shine in ‘independent’ Morocco.

General Kettani Ben Hammou was part of the staff of the French occupying army in Germany. However, he remained loyal to the Sultan of Morocco, Mohamed Ben Youssef.

In November 1955, on his return from exile, King Mohammed V called him to Rabat to assist Crown Prince Hassan in the formation of the royal forces FAR.

In 1956, Ben Hammou was commander of the armed forces, and in this capacity Kettani represented the sultan at the surrender of the governor of Tafilalt Aâddi Oubihi who had rebelled against the Hizb Listiqlal (Party of Independence) in power in 1957.

Two years later, in 1959, a major popular uprising in the Rif, which began in 1958, was brutally and violently suppressed by the Royal Army of Crown Prince Hassan. It was up to a.o. General Kettani to oversee the further subjugation of the Riffians.

General Ben Hammou went to the Congo on behalf of the UN in the 1960s as an advisor to the Congolese Chief of Staff of Mobutu Sese Seko. John Batist Mlima Makoubi, member of the Union of Congolese Youth, accused Ben Hammou of helping Mobutu to power through the CIA. Furthermore, he allegedly enabled Congolese dictator to seize power by having the independent leader Patrice Lumumba assassinated and thus eliminated.

General Kettani in Congo, 1960s Photo: Internet

This accusation does not come across as strange given Ben Hammou’s statements in the newspaper Le Monde. During the war of liberation in Congo he made the following statement: ‘What this country (Congo red.) needs is a Lyautey’. General Lyautey was the head of the French army that conquered Morocco.

General Kettani Ben Hammou was also chief of the Military House of King Hassan II. He died of a cardiac arrest in 1965. The newspaper Le Monde reports in its issue of 14 April 1965 that Kettani suffered a heart attack during a ceremony of the religious feast Aïd El Kébri. He congratulates the king on behalf of the army and collapses. Despite the treatment he received immediately by the king’s doctors, the general died a few minutes later without regaining consciousness.

Sourece https://amazighinformatiecentrum.medium.com/van-marokkaanse-collaborateur-bij-de-fransen-naar-cia-agent-58cc58884f35

Translation: Najat M.

What is the King doing about the social unrest in Morocco?

Women’s demonstration Imzouren 2017, photo Mohamed El Asrihi

In recent years there have been protests in Morocco in various sectors and regions. People claim their share of the country’s wealth, such as fishing, phosphate and other raw materials that the country is rich in.

Africa’s largest silver mine
In Imidar the province of Tinghir there is the largest silver mine in Africa (seventh largest silver producer in the world). The local population doesn’t benefit from it, even worse, the mining company makes the lives of these people more difficult, it pollutes their drinking water and because the company consumes a lot of water, the people from the region have a water shortage. SMI (Société Métallurgique d’Imiter) is part of the Royal Holding Company and has been operating the Imider mine since 1978. This company did not hire people from the region as promised. In the last century, the people of the region have carried out various actions against the negative consequences of this mining operation. Since 2011 the people of Imider have founded a movement: On The Road ’96 -Imider, the purpose of this movement is to stand up for civil rights in Imider. The situation in the region has not changed for the time being.

Water shortage
Poor management and water scarcity are a very serious problem in Morocco, one of the causes of migration. In the southern Zagora region (Tazagurt) of 30,000 inhabitants, 700 kilometres from Rabat, people protested against water shortages in 2017, their protests were met with brutal violence and they were persecuted for participating in unauthorised demonstrations. The King’s response to the problems in Morocco is to build dams, but this has not yielded any results for the average Moroccan, nor does it provide a structural solution to these problems in the long term.

In the east of the country, in the Jerada area near the Algerian border, people also took to the streets after coal mines were closed in this area and people could no longer find work. These protests were also violently suppressed. There is a video in circulation of a boy, Abdelmoula Zaiker, who was deliberately chased by a police car, then hit and seriously injured, and who is now being treated in a hospital in Turkey. The driver of the police car was not even prosecuted.

Death of the fish merchant
In the Rif there were big protests after the death of the fish merchant Muhsin Fikri. These demonstrations were led mainly by young people; they demanded an honest investigation of the death of Muhsin Fikri under the motto: freedom, equality and social justice, they wanted to demonstrate peacefully in the whole Rif area. After six months, the government reacted to these protests by accusing them of being led, financed as separatist from abroad. Hereafter a great wave of arrests in the Rif, which has been a military area since 1958, began. So far, people have been arrested for waving the Rif flag, taking a photo of Abdelkrim Al Khattabi and criticizing the government.

During the large-scale demonstration in Al Hoceima on July 20, 2017, there was even one death, Imad El Attabi was probably killed by a bullet of the security forces during the peaceful demonstration: According to the Moroccan prosecution, an investigation was conducted into the death of this young Riffian, and neither his family nor the Riffians saw the results of the investigation.

The funeral of the activist Imad El Attabi and the death of others.
Many people attended the funeral of Imad El Attabi on August 9 in Al Hoceima, where they held a demonstration using tear gas from the Moroccan police. The Riffian Abdelhafid El Haddad had breathing difficulties and died on 18 August 2017. He left behind a wife and three children. According to several Riffian civilians, the Moroccan police used French tear gas, showing an expired use date.

Najim Abdouni was the chairman of a national “anti-corruption committee” and was familiar with major projects in Al Hoceima for which large sums of money were provided on paper but not or not fully implemented. He was also active in the Rif popular movement. On August 10, 2017, he was found outside his front door, seriously injured, and died the same day in hospital. The Moroccan judiciary had promised an investigation, but had not yet announced any results.

Imad El Attabi

The King takes action
In a speech in 2017, King Mohamed VI praised the violent actions of his police and portrayed them as victims of the Riffian demonstrators. His Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit confirmed in Parliament that the Moroccan police had smashed the doors of civilians in the Rif. There are several videos on social media that clearly show that the Moroccan police terrorized the Riffians in the middle of the night and raided their homes without a search warrant: Private property was destroyed and the doors of defenseless Riffian houses were broken open.

Leaving for Europe
Thousands of demonstrators were filmed by the Moroccan police and then arrested and intimidated; even women and minors have not escaped these human rights violations. There are also stories of Morocco deliberately leaving its international borders unguarded so that young people can flee. The asylum seekers and reception centres in Europe are full of Riffian young people, especially in the Spanish enclave of Melilla. According to the latest news from the Rif, entire families fled the country. A number of Riffians were granted asylum, for example the activist Achraf El Idrissi in Belgium, the lawyer Abdessadek El Bouchtaoui in France, the activist Basset Lamrini in Spain. This year, Nawal Benaissa and her child have applied for asylum in the Netherlands. It is not known whether their application was granted.

Mitigations of the King
As a measure against the social protests, Mohamed VI reintroduced compulsory military service in Morocco this year after it was abolished in 2007. As a second clear measure, King Mohammed says in his speech of 20 August that Morocco will work on the development of rural areas and the agricultural sector and that some 50 billion dirhams are reserved for the period 2016 — 2022. The king also explains that it is not important to have a university degree, but to have a job, and refers his subjects to practical training (vocational training) and manual work.

The number of unemployed graduates in Morocco is increasing, and this is a danger for the regime, as they claim their rights and draw the attention of the uneducated Moroccans to their rights. This is why Morocco is slowly phasing out “free” education. Both measures are in favour of the monarchy: The entry into military service ensures the influx of personnel for the police forces.
The development of the agricultural sector also benefited the Moroccan monarchy, as Morocco’s best farmland was in the hands of the royal family and other Moroccan families who worked with the Spanish and French occupiers between 1912 and 1956. For this reason, the agricultural sector in Morocco is completely exempt from taxation. The royal company is the country’s largest producer and exporter.

Source: https://amazighinformatiecentrum.medium.com/wat-doet-de-koning-aan-de-sociale-onrust-in-marokko-98bf7283b987
Translated by: Najat M

Increasing tensions between Morocco and Algeria?

Moroccan-Algerian border. Wikipedia

Both Algeria and Morocco were French colonies in the last century, so the French government established the borders between the two countries.
But after decolonization both countries contested this border. This resulted in an armed border conflict, also called the Sand War. This war, which took place in 1963, lasted more than 4 months, with a total of about 500 deaths. Since then, the relationship between the two countries has been very tense.
In addition, Algeria, Polisario, supports an independence movement in Western Sahara. It claims the former Spanish territory (Spanish Sahara) divided by Morocco and Mauritania. Morocco was engaged in an armed struggle with Polisario between 1975 and 1991. As of last weekend, this struggle flared up again. How big is the chance that Morocco and Algeria will fight a direct war with each other again?

In a series of video conversations the Algerian former military and politician Khaled Nezzar discusses the tense relationship between Morocco and Algeria.
The retired and high-ranking Khaled Nezzar (1939) served in the Algerian army between 1962 and 1993. He held various positions as commander of the Algerian troops stationed in Béchar-Tinduf, an area bordering Morocco. In this capacity he collaborated with Polisario. He had information about the Moroccan Army and other secret information at his disposal.
In 1990, Nezzar was appointed Minister of Defence and as such was a member of the Supreme Council of State that ruled Algeria between 1992 and 1994. In this capacity, he met King Hassan II and negotiated, among other things, the extradition of persons accused of terrorism by Algeria who had fled to Morocco.

General Khaled Nezzar in 1989 with the then Algerian president Chadli Bendjedid in Algiers. Photo: AFP

A remarkable fact that General Nezzar reported in an interview with Algerian TV channel Echorouk News is; that he personally assured the King of Morocco that as long as the army is in power in Algeria, the Moroccan monarchy has nothing to fear from neighbouring Algeria.
This means that two dictatorial regimes in Morocco and Algeria, which have no popular support, will not fight each other, because their common opponent is the people.
The general goes on to say that the Algerian rulers have never given the green light to destabilize the Moroccan regime, although Algeria has a ready-made plan to do so. According to General Nezzar, Morocco has only a small army, which severely limits the troops’ room for manoeuvre.

General Nezzar with Ahmed Osman brother-in-law of Hassan II. Photo GettyImages

In other words: Morocco, with its more than 200,000 soldiers, excluding reservists, cannot fight three potential wars at the same time (Spain in the North, Algeria in the East and Polisario in the South). And if Algeria’s aim was to destabilize the monarchy in Morocco, there was ample opportunity to do so during the coup attempts against Hassan II in 1971, 1972 and the great uprisings in Morocco in 1963 and 1984. However, Algeria never decided to do so and there are no concrete signs that the military junta in Algeria wanted to overthrow the Moroccan regime or play an important role in it.


Traslation: Najat M.

Four years after the murder of Muhsin Fikri, the repression continues in the Rif

Banner Riffian Sit-in, Brussels, October 28, 2020

Every year on the 28th of October, the world’s Riffians commemorate the terrible and barbaric murder of the fishmonger Muhsin Fikri. On that day, 31-year-old Muhsin Fikri was crushed by Moroccan officials in a garbage truck in 2016. This crime was recorded on video footage showing how he was slaughtered in the presence of bystanders. This black day is permanently engraved in the Riffian collective memory just like the many other crimes the Moroccan regime committed against the people from the Rif.

For the new generation of Riffians, the cowardly murder of Muhsin Fikri is a tangible proof of the crimes committed over and over by the Moroccan regime in the Rif.

There have been and are still many crimes: during the popular uprisings of 1958/1959, just after the withdrawal of Spain and France from the Rif in 1956, the Moroccan regime massacred the Rif population. Subsequently, in the 1960’s, there was a mass deportation of Riffians to Europe under the guise of employment as a guest worker. In the 70’s, Riffians who were active in the opposition and trade union movement were arrested and imprisoned. During the student protests in 1984, many Riffians fled their country for fear for their safety. And this development continues to this day, as the report below will show.

Massive protests after a barbaric murder

It did not stop at the deaths in 1984. In 2011 there were another five deaths, this time in Al Hoceima, which happened during February 20 movement, although these young people were not actively involved in the movement. All the evidence of murder of these young people point at the regime. In 2015, the lifeless and beheaded body of the rapper and activist Rifinox (Hussain Bellagrache) was found in the Nador region. The regime is held responsible for this macabre murder by Riffian activists.

From 1956 to the present day, many Riffians go missing, some of them disappear on the orders of the regime, another part is swallowed up by the Mediterranean Sea while fleeing the repression of the regime.

These events and the assassination of Muhsin Fikri prompted the population of the Rif to take immediate and massive action. Thousands of Riffians took to the streets and demanded an end to the militarization of the Rif, an end to the humiliation, contempt and killing of the Riffians.

These protests culminated in a popular movement called the Hirak Reef. For months, the Moroccan regime ignored the large and peaceful protests. The peaceful and massive demonstrations of the Hirak took place every week in different regions of the Rif.

Kidnappings and rape in the Rif

However, in May 2017 the Moroccan regime reacted with an unprecedented repression on the demands of the peaceful demonstrators.

More than a thousand Riffians were abducted from their homes by force, forcing the house doors in the middle of the night, tearing the victims away from their families and taking them to unknown destinations, leaving their loved ones in bewilderment and ignorant of the fate of their loved ones.

This fate did not only affect young healthy adult men, but also people with disabilities, women and minors did not escape state terrorism. The young singer Salima Ziani (1994) better known as Silya Ziani from Al Hoceima was kidnapped by Moroccan police on June 5, 2017 and taken to Casablanca where she was tortured, filmed naked and threatened with rape.

Nasser Zefzafi the spokesperson of the movement was kidnapped by Moroccan police officers, raped with a bat and urinated on him. At the police station, he was filmed naked like other abductees and DNA material was taken without permission.

Protests for the Rif in Europe

Riffians protesting, Amsterdam 05 November 2016

The Riffians of Europe also reacted fiercely and massively to these crimes committed by the Moroccan regime. After the murder of Muhsin Fikri, they took to the streets to stop killing, humiliating and expelling Riffians from their own country. Because of their open criticism of the Moroccan regime and organizing protests, many European Riffiand activists did not dare to travel to Morocco for fear of arrest in the knowledge that they too are controlled by the regime. Even though these citizens have a European nationality, Morocco continues to see them as its own nationals. The Dutch and Belgian governments have let it be known that there is nothing they can do about this.

Morocco has tried to accuse a well-known Riffian activist who is in Dutch government service of subversive activities. Morocco then asked the Netherlands for his extradition. After a thorough investigation by the Dutch government, Morocco got zero on the petition.

However, a Belgian from the Rif was arrested and imprisoned in Morocco. Belgium did not take any action for this citizen, it is said that the country did not want to damage its good economic and political relationship with Morocco.

Killings during demonstration

Imad El Attabi

During the last protests in the Rif, 22-year-old Imad El Attabi was killed by a police bullet during the demonstration of 20 July 2017 in Al Hoceima. The cab driver Abdelhafid El Haddad died from the effects of the inhalation of tear gas, which was frequently used during this demonstration.

Many Riffians participating in the protests received a call to report to the police station where, under threats and humiliation, they were forced to sign a statement promising not to demonstrate again. During show trials more than a thousand Riffians were sentenced to prison terms ranging from a few months to 20 years imprisonment. Among the long sentences are several activists such as Nasser Zefzafi, Mohamed Jalloul, Nabil Ahemjik etc.

Militarization and economic embargo

In order to strengthen this policy of repression, the Moroccan regime had new prisons, police stations and barracks built in the Rif. In addition, the borders with the ‘Spanish enclaves’ Ceuta and Melilla were closed, causing thousands of Rif families to lose their livelihood.

These illegal and semi-illegal practices such as smuggling oil from Algeria, drug smuggling and human trafficking, and smuggling products from Ceuta and Melilla and Algeria, which are a large part of a parallel economy, have been promoted, to say the least, and partly set up by the regime. They are now partly restricted in order to affect the population.

This parallel economy was created so that the Riffian could never form an economic power. Even Riffians that want to invest their money in Rif do not get a license to do so, but are told to do so in other parts of Morocco. Also, the hard currency of Riffians in Europe and the real estate profits benefit the Moroccan regime through the Moroccan banks.

After the popular protests and the subsequent show trials, nothing has changed, the provocation, intimidation and humiliation of the Riffians by Moroccan officials both on the streets and in government buildings are the order of the day, Riffians are bullied with the words like, son of a Spaniard.

King Hassan II called the Riffians ‘scum’ in his speech of January 1984. His son Mohammed VI called them ‘nihilists’ in his speech from the throne in 2017. Moroccan politicians follow the good examples of their king and express hurtful insults about the Riffians, which they put on social media and in the Moroccan media, including terms such as scum and nihilists.

The persecution in the Rif continues as well, recently two youngsters have been sentenced by a Moroccan court to imprisonment for wearing the Rif flag.

The situation in Rif is worrying

All this makes the situation in the Rif very worrisome, the regime has curtailed important sources of income in the Rif, in addition, the fishing port of Al Hoceima had to make way for a pleasure port. Many wipers lost their jobs as a result. The trade in products from the ‘Spanish Enclaves’ Ceuta and Melilla has been stopped by closing the borders. There is hardly any employment in the Rif, so people are struggling from craftsmen and manual workers to businessmen. There are currently families who can no longer do their shopping and are forced to sell their furniture in order to stay alive.

Riffians fleeing to Europe

Archive Image of a rescue operation of a boat, EFE

To escape this reign of terror, thousands of Riffians flee their homeland and leave for Europe. Among them are women and minors. A new phenomenon is that whole families are now fleeing from the Rif. In Europe there is no end to their suffering because they disappear into ‘illegality’ and end up in wretched conditions. This stream of refugees continues.


Translation: Najat M.

Son of Riffian president died under suspicious circumstances

Mohamed Mmis n Abdelkrim with his family on the island of La Réunion

By: Editorial Amazigh Information Center

The Riffian resistance leader and politician Mohamed Mmis n Abdelkrim Al Khattabi (1880-1963), better known to the Riffians as Muhand U Abdelkrim, led the resistance of the people of the Rif against the Spanish government after the First World War. In May 1926 he surrendered to the French. He and his family were exiled to Réunion, a French island east of Madagascar. In 1947, on condition that he would settle in France, he was released. During the transport to France, however, he ‘escaped’ in Port Said and King Farouk offered him asylum in Egypt. There he was put in charge of the Liberation Committee of the Maghreb (northwestern part of Africa).

The occupiers seized part of their possessions, such as agricultural land in the Rif. After the tactical withdrawal of France and Spain in1956, Muhand stated that he would not return to Morocco as long as parts of North Africa and in particular the Rif were still colonised. And this situation still exists today, given the fact that two Rif cities and dozens of islands are still under Spanish administration.

Safiya Al Hassani Al Jazairi, granddaughter of the Algerian freedom fighter Abd Al-Kader Jazairi (1808-1883) who was both married to a cousin of Muhand, Rachid Al Khattabi, and after his death with his son Idris Al Khattabi (1925) told during a series of interviews with the Moroccan daily Al Massae in 2015, how the family perished after being banished from the Rif. When she married Rachid, she first mastered the Rif language, because this language was spoken consistently at home.

King Mohammed V (1909 – 1961) still provided the Muhand family with an allowance, his son King Hassan II, however, set conditions for further payment of this allowance. The family had to return to Morocco, but were not allowed to settle in the Rif. Part of the family returned and some of them died under suspicious circumstances, according to Safiya.

Screenshot of an interview of Al Massae with Safiya Al Hassani

Her first husband was the Riffian diplomat Rachid Al Khattabi, he was ambassador for Morocco in Syria. Despite the fact that Rachid Al Khattabi worked for the Moroccan regime, he remained loyal to the Rif and resisted power. He missed a promotion because he refused to kiss King Mohamed V’s hand. And during the revolt of the Rif in1958 and1959 against the Moroccan dictatorship and abuse of power in the Rif, he maintained the contacts between Muhand who stayed in Egypt and the protesting Riffians. He asked his wife to write down the demands for the Rif demonstrators because, according to him, she had such a beautiful handwriting. According to the newspaper Al Massae, Safiya could not tell how these demands ended up with the demonstrators.

Muhand with his son Idris

After the death of Rachid Al Khattabi in 1969, Safiya married Idris Al Khattabi (1925), son of Abdelkrim Al Khattabi. He attended higher education in Germany where he studied German literature. Idris Al Khattabi lived in Rabat and worked for the bus company Al Sadraoui in Casablanca.

King Hassan II tried to get him and other family members of Muhand at his side by promising them ‘privileges’. In the 1970s, for example, he offered Idris Al Khattabi a ministerial post and made a house available to him. This offer was rejected by Idris.

This uncompromising attitude of the Al Khattabi family caused them to collide with the royal family and its lackeys. Thus, Idris demanded the family’s property, which had been confiscated during the Spanish occupation, back. For this purpose he made several visits to the Rif. However, there he was confronted with an encirclement by the army of the then headquarters of the Rif government in the capital Ajdir, this was also the case with the house of Muhand. Everything that reminds us of the resistance of Muhand and the Riffian people is closely watched by the Moroccan police and army.

Moroccan politician Mehdi Barka (R) talking with son of Riff leader Cap. Abdel Salem Abdel Krim (L). (Photo by Pierre Boulat/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)

But what, according to Safiya Al Hassani Al Jazairi, made Muhand the most angry is that his cousin Al Hatimi and six others were buried alive in Tangier. Muhand held Medi Ben Barka responsible for his nephew’s death.

This ‘nationalist’ and ‘socialist’ and co-founder of the dominant ‘independence movement’ Istiqlaal initially worked with King Mohammed V. He supported crown prince Hassan II in bringing the still existing resistance fires under control, because in his opinion these also included a posed a threat to the Istiqlaal party that pursued power only in Morocco. For that reason, Ben Barka would have given the order for this murder, Muhand confidants reported to him. Medi Ben Barka himself disappeared without a trace in Paris in 1965. Already before then, Al Hatimi was kidnapped by a group of men who would fall under Medi Ben Barka.

According to Safiya Al Hassani Al Jazairi, Hassan II was afraid of Muhand’s family because he once asked Rachid Al Khattabi if this family intended to make a coup against the Alaouite ruler.

In 1979, Idris Al Khatatabi made a three-day trip through the Rif. He was received by a large crowd in Ayt Bouayach in the Al Hoceima region. For the Riffians, he was a representative of the ideas of his father Muhand U Abdelkrim. Idris was received hospitably by the Riffians and came home happy, according to his wife: “It is one of the few times that I have seen Idris happy and cheerful like that, like a little boy who found something he loved”. But he was not only happy, he was also angry, angry at the occupation of the family property by soldiers, none of whom came from the Rif. His only dream was to find a free Rif without being able to visit an occupying force and his family property undisturbed. The Rif, in particular the Al Hoceima region, has been a military area by decree from 1958 to the present day.

At the end of this visit to the Rif, Moroccan officials informed Idris’ wife by a short message that her husband had died in a traffic accident on the road between Casablanca and Rabat, in the city of Bouznika. She says: “We were told that Idris had a twisted head in the car seat and that another passenger had survived” the accident “. His car is said to have hit another car, the owner of which was currently replacing a wheel. The coffin with his remains was already closed, so Idris Al Khattabi’s family and loved ones could not say goodbye to him.

Safiya Al Hassani Al Jazairi “My husband’s death was not normal. I find the “official” story about his death incredible. Our phone was being tapped before my husband died. But as far as I know Idris never came into contact with the police and was questioned by them ”.

Moroccan politician Mehdi Barka (L) talking with son of Riff leader Cap. Abdel Salem Abdel Krim (R). (Photo by Pierre Boulat/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Idris is not the only son of Muhand who died under suspicious circumstances. Another of Muhand’s son, Abdesalam Al Khattabi, was an officer in the Moroccan Army (FAR). During an armed conflict between Morocco and Algeria, the so-called Sand War, Abdesalam Al Khattabi refused to participate in this armed conflict in 1963. He proposed that Morocco and Algeria should resolve the border problems of the colonial era peacefully and made himself available as a mediator. Hassan II immediately fired him from the army and informed the Muhand family that he could not understand the decision of Abdesalam.

Abdesalam, who was perfectly healthy according to Safiya Al Hassani Al Jazairi, suddenly experienced severe abdominal pain in the 1980s and died within a week.

Translated: Najat M.


People’s resistance to the coloniser and an army coup against a corrupt kingship

Paris Match, juli 1971

On 10 July 1971 a number of high-ranking army officers decided to carry out a coup against King Hassan II, of the Alaouite dynasty. They tried to take over power by attacking and deposing the summer palace where the then king received many guests during a garden party.
Resistance to power has a long history in Morocco. And this coup is one of the attempts to put an end to corruption and abuse of power by a ruling elite.
How it could come to this and what developments led to this coup is explained in this article.

Morocco under occupation
Initially, the Moroccan people rebelled against the occupying forces of France and Spain who had occupied Morocco at the 1906 Convention of Algeciras (Spain) with the consent of the Alaouite dynasty. The struggle to control the North African territory was called pacification by the colonial powers concealing it. This armed resistance, which lasted from 1912 to 1933, is seen as the fiercest anticolonial battle waged against the western powers. Despite the enormous power in men and equipment of the French and Spanish armies, it took more than twenty years to get Morocco and the Rif under control.

In the Rif, the Spanish occupying army experienced fierce resistance led by Mohamed Ameziane (1). This resistance fighter fought until he died on the battlefield in 1912. Although the struggle continued, the resistance was weakened and less well organized until 1921, when the charismatic leader Mohamed ibn Abdelkrim Al Khattabi (1882-1963) managed to reunite the tribes and the Rif resistance fighters won important battles, such as the battle of Anoual (2). In the end they controlled so much territory that in 1923 the Rif Republic could be proclaimed: ‘the Federation of the Riffian Tribes’.

With the support of the Moroccan sultan, the Spaniards and French intensified their attacks, expanded their troops and even used chemical weapons on civilian targets. And with this bombardment with poison gas they managed to put an end to the existence of the Rif Republic in 1926, but not to the desire of the Riffians to be free and independent

The tribe of Ait Atta in the Anti-Atlas survived the longest until they too had to give up fighting in 1933. This terrible war resulted in many deaths and wounded among the indigenous people on the battlefield. Many fled their homes to escape death.

The Alaouite dynasty
Eventually, after the colonial powers had trained a new administrative elite, the national government was transferred to the Alaouite Monarchy in 1956.
The people of the Rif rebelled against this administration in 1958. This population, which lasted the longest in the struggle against the colonial powers, resisted the poor social conditions and unfair treatment by this monarchy.

The Riffians protested peacefully against discrimination and marginalisation by the young ‘Moroccan state’. Because the government in Rabat sent Arabic-speaking officials to the Rif, among others, who spoke neither the native language of the area nor respected the traditions and customs of the Riffians. In addition, investment in the Rif was not forthcoming, causing unemployment and poverty to rise immensely. They informed King Mohamed V of their demands in a letter. King Mohamed V did not respond to these demands, in fact he accused them of sedition and deployed the army against the demonstrators. This army operation against the population of the Rif was accompanied by heavy napalm bombardments, after which 20,000 troops (3) combed out the entire Rif. Eyewitnesses speak of cruel massacres, rapes and looting. At the same time many people were captured, some of whom disappeared without trace.

Also elsewhere in Morocco people were not happy with how the country was governed. This resulted in several demonstrations of the people such as the one in Casablanca in 1965, which was also violently defeated by the army. This protest, which started as a school protest in which the unemployed and slum dwellers joined in, killed many people.

On 7 June 1965 a state of emergency was declared and the then ruler Hassan II sent the government home, suspended parliament, and suspended the constitution, leaving all power in his hands. In 1966 he introduces conscription. The state of emergency lasted 5 years, until 1970. Power was consolidated within a small group around the king, abuse of power and corruption increased considerably. 

Corrupt entourage of the king
During preliminary discussions of a state visit of Hassan II to the US in 1970, General Mohamed Medbouh is addressed by an American Senator on the corruption within Moroccan government circles. Also known as the PanAm affair, this affair is said to involve six Moroccan ministers: Mohamed Imani, Yahia Chefchaouni, Abdelkrim Lazrak, Mamoun Tahiri, Mohamed Jaidi and Abdelhamid Karim (4). King Hassan II decided not to take up these allegations, which leads to a lack of understanding within army circles.

The army coup
On Saturday, July 10, 1971, King Hassan II celebrated his 42nd birthday. For this occasion, the monarch gave a reception at his summer residence in Skhirat, a 3 km-long site with pavilions and villas and an 18-hole golf course, near Rabat on the Atlantic coast. More than a thousand guests, men only, were invited to this reception. The company included the entire government, almost the entire general staff, all commanders of the military units. That made this festive event an ideal opportunity for a coup, the whole family of the king was within reach.

Colonel Mhamed Ababou, Photo: internet

300 kilometres from Skhirat, in the Atlas area, stands the military school for non-commissioned officers of Ahermoumou, which has about 1400 cadets and officers. At the head of this school is 33-year-old lieutenant colonel Mhamed Ababou, the youngest officer with the rank of colonel in the Moroccan army. These 1400 cadets were told by the army command that a two-day army exercise would take place on 10 July at Sidi Slimane, about a hundred kilometres from Rabat. That day, a military column of 60 army trucks with on board 1400 officers, non-commissioned officers and cadets and eight tons of ammunition left Ahermoumou. They were divided into 25 command units of 15 to 40 men, each command unit was commanded by an officer and a special command brigade, consisting of 25 carefully selected non-commissioned officers, who coordinated the operation.

The convoy takes a break at Bouknadel in the Maâmora forest. At that moment Mhamed Ababou, his brother Mohamed and other officers joined and the commander of the Ahermoumou school gave his officers the following order:
Two buildings in Skhirat, which were supposed to have been occupied by rebels, had to be besieged and all entrances had to be closed, foreigners present had to be removed and put in trucks and anyone who tried to flee had to be shot at. Colonel Mhamed Ababou divided the convoy into two groups: a first group which, under his command, would invade the complex in Skhirat from the south. The second group, commanded by his older brother, Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Ababou, will invade the complex from the north. Mhamed Ababou informed his men that liberating the king from the hands of subversive elements and traitors was the objective of the operation. More military units were on their way to take part, the cadets of Ahermoumou were told by their commander.

Mhamed Ababou,
Photo: internet

Lieutenant Colonel Mhamed Ababou (1938-1971) was born in Boured, Izennayen in the Rif. His father worked for the French government in Morocco, which gave him access to the French colonial schools. He studied at the Collège berbère d’Azrou (now Lycée Tarik Ibn Ziad) and at the military academy in Meknes. In 1968 he was appointed commander of the Military School of Petty Officers in Ahermoumou. He obtained his commanding degree at the French School of the General Staff. Ababou belonged to the important cadres of the Moroccan army and led large army exercises. One of his officers described him, he made his men subordinate to his power, he was feared and loved and respected by everyone at the same time, including his superiors”. 

The column of Ababou drove into the centre of Rabat around half past two in the afternoon. On this warm and busy day, people looked in amazement at the long line of military trucks full of soldiers with loaded machine guns that slowly drove into the capital of Morocco. Upon arrival in Skhirat, the convoy split into two groups, each group entering through the previously agreed entrance to the Royal residence in Skhirat.

Fleeing guests in Skhirat on 10/07/1971, Paris Match 1971

Assault on the royal palace
The guarding of the royal residence of Skhirat consisted of members of the Royal Guard, paratroopers, gendarmerie and members of the secret service. The cadets of Ahermoumou invaded, without much resistance, the summer palace of Hassan II. The two units of CMI, Compagnies Mobiles d’Intervention, the Mobile Units, who later wanted to come to the aid of the king, were quickly eliminated by the Ahermoumou cadets.

The cadets of Ahermoumou were no older than 20 years and came mainly from poor families from Atlas and the Rif. They were well trained but had no combat experience. When they entered the palace they were surprised by the luxury life of the king and his entourage. The leader of the faithful, as the constitution states, was feasting on refined food and alcoholic beverages.

Colonel Mhamed Ababou was stopped by the palace guards at the entrance. A lieutenant blocked Ababou’s way, he warned the lieutenant if he did not avoid, he was forced to shoot him, the lieutenant shot the colonel and was wounded, but not killed. Then the cadets shot at the fleeing guests, as their commander had ordered.

Fleeing guests in Skhirat on 10/07/1971, Paris Match 1971

After the first shots were fired, the king was led away to the throne room and then placed in an unknown place. He was said to have been hiding in the toilets together with a number of confidants. According to another version, he was in a large garbage container.

One of the guests who usually swung a thick pack of banknotes to the cadets was badly hurt. “That’s not what we came for!” Ahermoumou’s cadets roared.

General Mohamed Medbouh in white polo shirt just before his death, beside him Hassan II with sunglasses, Paris Match, July 1971
General Mohamed Medbouh (1927–1971), Photo: Getty Images

The death of General Medbouh

After the soldiers of Mhamed Ababou had secured the palace of Skhirat, they tried to find King Hassan II. At that moment General Mohamed Medbouh appeared who came to get his story from Colonel Ababou. The capture of the palace would take place without shooting. Whereupon the colonel, the general asked if his part of the mission had been carried out, namely neutralizing the king. According to the colonel, the general’s answer was not convincing, moreover he saw that Medbouh’s companion, doctor Benaïch, a private doctor of the king, was carrying a small machine gun, on which he ordered his soldiers to kill the 44-year-old general.

This general didn’t just get his name Medbouh. Medbouh in Arabic means ‘slaughtered’. This name was given to the family after the Riffian resistance cut his father’s throat because he had betrayed the resistance to the French at the time of Abdelkrim. Moreover, in 1963 the general himself betrayed a conspiracy against Hassan II of which he himself was part at the last moment. Colonel Abadou knew the family history of his compatriot Medbouh.

But the colonel could not ignore him, he needed someone in his position to move his troops freely through the area of three military districts from Ahermoumou to Skhirat. But also to control the army. Medbouh’s influence was great, he was previously commander of the Royal Guard, served in the French army and had close contacts with the CIA (5) and was Minister of Post and Telecommunications. He was also married to the daughter of a senior army officer, Marshal Mohammed ben Mizzian ben Kassem, (1897-1975). 

After the search for Hassan II in the palace of Skhirat, Mohamed Ababou stayed behind in Skhirat together with some of the cadets, and Mhamed Ababou went with the rest to Rabat to continue the coup.

Occupation of government buildings in Rabat
Mhamed Ababou and his cadets took the main buildings of the Moroccan Radio and TV, the Ministry of the Interior and the General Staff in Rabat without encountering much resistance.

Mhamed Ababou, however, made a fatal mistake; to secure the palace in Skhirat the hundred cadets who had stayed behind with his brother were far from sufficient, the area was too large for that.

After the takeover of the radio and TV station, the coup forces reported the takeover of power. The first communiqué read: “The king is dead, long live the republic.

More communiqués followed in the course of the afternoon and evening such as: “The army has revolutionized for the good of the Moroccan people. The royal regime has fallen. We will not let the traitors trample on the honour of this people. The army has taken power and placed all the prefectures and provinces of the country under its command. “This proclamation is made by the People’s Army and the Council of the Revolutionary Army.

There was another proclamation:
“After the destruction of the feudal system, the national armed forces took power in the name of the people. “Moroccans, be vigilant, do not listen to anti-revolutionary and anti-popular orders. Military marching music was broadcast between these proclamations.

Mohamed Ababou
Photo: Wikipedia

Following these radio messages, colonel Mohamed Ababou was informed of the developments, after which he travelled to Rabat. Where after that the main post office of Rabat was taken. Afterwards Colonel Mohamed Ababou joined his brother Mhamed who was in the building of the General Staff of Rabat.

The death of Colonel Ababou

The counterattack didn’t last long. Under the leadership of General Mohamed Oufkir paratroopers were first stripped of the Palace of Shkirat and then moved with tanks in the direction of Rabat.

At the entrance of the General Staff building in Rabat, where most of the deportees were located, General Bachir Bouhali, major of the army’s general staff, appeared at the head of two Rapid Intervention Units.

General Bouhali walked to the main entrance of the building, where Colonel Mhamed Ababou met him, asked the general to surrender and ordered his soldiers to lay down their weapons. The colonel refused and wanted to negotiate this was refused by the general. A firefight ensued in which the general was killed and Colonel Ababou was badly wounded and died on the spot, putting an end to the attempted coup.

Paris Match, 11 juli 1971

The 59-year-old general Bachir Bouhali served in the French army involved in the massacre of Moroccan demonstrators in Oued Zem (Central Morocco) on 20 August 1955. After France withdrew from Morocco he was, like many other Moroccan officers in the French army, handed over by France to Morocco.

During this failed coup, more than a hundred people were killed and wounded in Skhirat: ministers, army officers, doctors of the king, the Belgian ambassador to Morocco Marcel Dupret. The Moroccan army lost five generals during the Skhirat coup: Mohamed Gharbaoui, commander of the tank division, Driss N’michi, commander of the air force, Belbsir Abdelhai, head of the military district of Meknes, Mohamed Medbouh, head of the royal military household and Bachir Bouhali, major of the army’s general staff. Among the wounded was the younger brother of King Hassan II, Prince Abdellah ben Mohammed Alaoui (1935-1983).

The Palace of Skhirat, Paris Match, July 1971

The counterattack by General Oufkir
The Minister of the Interior, General Mohamed Oufkir, was given all civil and military powers by King Hassan II to take control of the situation.
All the coup forces were quickly apprehended on that 10th July 1971: Generals Khiari Bougrine, head of the military district of Fes-Taza, Amharech Mustapha, general director of military schools, Hammou Amahzoun, Hassan II’s brother-in-law, head of the military district of Rabat-Kenitra, Abderrahman Habibi, head of the military district of Marrakech, and Colonel Larbi Chelouati, officer in the General Staff.

At a press conference the same evening Hassan II said threateningly, Within 24 hours the leaders of the rebellion will be executed. We’ll give them just enough time to tell us what they have to say.”
The executioners were given an extra night to work on their prisoners. The four generals, Hammou, Bougrine, Mustapha, Habibi and five colonels including Chelouati and one major were executed on Tuesday 13 July 1971. This execution was broadcast on Moroccan state television, the executed showed clear traces of torture. Many questions were asked about these executions and the time within which they were carried out without trial. Partly in view of the fact that there was no longer any danger to state security.

Imprisoned officers on their way to execution, Paris Match, July 1971

The Moroccan army lost nine of its fifteen generals in three days. Never before in a war, however bloody, had the loss rate under the highest command been so high.

From left to right generals: Mohamed Habibi, Bachir Bouhali, Khiari Bougrine, Hammou Amahzoun, Photo: The New York Times

Witnesses reported shooting at cadets of Ahermoumou by the royal troops while they had already surrendered and laid down their weapons. Colonel Mohamed Ababou was arrested near Achaoun (Chefchaouen) on Wednesday, 14 July 1971 after fleeing from Rabat.

The trial of the military of Ahermoumou
The captured officers, non-commissioned officers and cadets of Ahermoumou were tried by the Kenitra Military Court. At the beginning of February 1972, the public prosecutor had demanded prison sentences ranging from one year to death against officers, non-commissioned officers and Ahermoumou cadets at the Kenitra Court. They were all detained for one year in the Kenitra Military Prison after which they were transferred to the Kenitra Central Prison.

The cadets of Ahermoumou were all acquitted and dismissed from the army corps. At the end of February 1972, 74 officers and non-commissioned officers were sentenced by the military court to sentences ranging from one year to life imprisonment. Colonel Mohamed Ababou was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for his part in the coup against the King of Morocco.

Trial of Ahermoumou’s Cadets, Paris Match, July 1971

Lieutenant-colonel Mohamed Ababou (1934), four years older than his brother Mhamed, was originally from Boured in the Rif, studied at the French officers’ school. Dar el Beida in Meknes. He served in the Moroccan army during the UN mission UNOC, peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1960s. He has held various civil and military positions in Morocco. In 1971 he was an instructor at the High Military School in Kenitra.

After his conviction in February 1972 he served his sentence in Kenitra’s Central Prison and was visited until 1973. In 1975 Mohamed Ababou escaped together with other prisoners from the so-called PF3 (Point Fixe 3) in Rabat, a secret detention centre of the secret service. After this escape attempt an investigation report was issued in the Moroccan media. Since then, every trace of him has been missing.

Disappearance from prison
The other convicted escapees were secretly taken from Kenitra Central Prison to the secret Tazmamart Prison in 1973. Some of them died there after years of imprisonment, even though they had already served their sentences. The survivors were released in 1991, after Hassan II, under international pressure, had recognized the existence of Tazmamart prison and had it closed.

Ribat El Kheir (Ahermoumou), Photo: Internet

The name of the town of Ahermoumou where the military school was located also had to pay off: by order of the palace, the name Ahermoumou was changed into Ribat Al Kheir which means Fortress of Fortune.
More than a year after Skhirat’s failed coup, the Moroccan army will again attempt to overthrow King Hassan II. On Wednesday, August 16, 1972, the Moroccan Air Force opened fire on the plane of Hassan II.


1 Article about Mohamed Ameziane (English)

2 The Battle of Anoual
The battle of Anoual is one of the greatest battles in modern Riffine history that took place between Riffine resistance fighters and the Spanish army between 22 July and 9 August 1921 in Anoual. An area in the Reef between Nador and Al Hoceima. More than ten thousand Spanish soldiers died in this battle, including Spanish general Manuel Fernández Silvestre. This battle is written in Spanish history books such as The Disaster of Anoual or El Desastre de Annual.

3 Number of Moroccan soldiers in the Rif, Rif rebellion 1959 (English)

5 General Medbouh and the CIA (English)

Source list

Gilles Perrault: Notre ami le roi (1990, Gallimard; 1992, Folio) French

Mohammed Raiss: De Skhirat à Tazmamart: retour du bout de l’enfer (2002) French

Thomas K. Park & Aomar Boum: Historical Dictionary of Morocco, (2016) English

Aziz BeneBine: Taz ma mort (2009) French

Series of interviews of Al Jazeera Arabic with Tazmamart survivor Ahmed Marzouki (Arabic)

Ahmed Marzouki: La Cellule n° 10 (2001) French

Article about the failed coup of 1971 on the BBC website (English)

Article on the coup of 1971 on The New York Times website (English)


Translated by: Najat M.

Imad El Attabi, demonstrator of ‘Hirak Rif’, the first to be killed by the hand of the Moroccan security forces during the Hirak Rif protests

Imad El Attabi (1995–2017)

The 22-year-old Imad El Attabi, like thousands of others, went out to demonstrate for his rights in Al Hoceima on 20 July 2017. When he left his house he could not know that he would not return and that a bullet from the Moroccan security forces would put an end to his life. On top of this crime his family was denied the right to say the last goodbye to him. Witnesses of this murder were pressured, intimidated and imprisoned.

When Imad El Attabi took part in the demonstration of 20 July 2017 in Al Hoceima, he was suddenly shot with live ammunition, he was hit in the head and fell to the ground, whereupon his friends took him to the local hospital. Nurse Najib Bouzambou witnessed this. Subsequently, without consulting his family or the doctor on duty, his lifeless body was taken by the local authorities, most probably on assignment from Rabat, the next day by helicopter to the military hospital in Rabat.

On 8 August 2017 Imad El Attabi was officially declared dead by the Moroccan regime. Thousands of Riffians said goodbye to him during his funeral in Al-Hoceima. That the Moroccan regime had something to hide with regard to the death of Imad El Attabi who was buried in Iyyar Azegwagh, a nearby town near Al Hoceima, is evidenced by the fact that the coffin was not allowed to be opened, his medical file was not given access and his family was put under pressure by the Moroccan regime not to speak publicly about the death of their son.

X-ray photographs with words: “a bullet in the brain yesterday”.

After the funeral, the Moroccan regime started the prosecution against the witnesses of this political murder of El Attabi. The first was Abdelhak Al Fahsi (1999) from Ayt Ulichek in the province of Driouch (Nador). He was a direct witness to the political murder and responded to a call by lawyer Abdessadeq El Bouchattaoui. This lawyer presented himself on facebook as the lawyer of the El Attabi family and searched that way for witnesses of the murder of El Attabi. El Fahsi then contacted the lawyer. This brought not only the lawyer in contact with this witness, but also the Moroccan secret service. To put it mildly, this was a naive action by this lawyer who had also assisted Nasser Zefzafi and other kidnapped Riffian activists. He should have known that he was spied on and that he should not have endangered his clients in this way.

And so Al Fahsi was arrested in August 2017 and falsely accused of crimes. He was systematically tortured during pre-trial detention. This may have had something to do with the fact that Al Fahsi had registered the murder with his smartphone, the smartphone with the evidence was confiscated by the police. During a show trial he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. This sentence also meant that he could not testify in the case of Imad El Attabi. Moroccan criminal law does not allow the testimony of a person with a criminal record. The harsh punishment also served as a deterrent to other witnesses and it was hoped to silence them.

Abdelhak Al Fahsi

Nabil Achahbar also witnessed the murder of El Attabi. Photos and videos show how this Riffian activist was abducted by several Moroccan agents with brute force. All this because he witnessed this political murder and together with others he carried El Attabi to the hospital. The Moroccan court sentenced him to fifteen months in prison and he was released in October 2018.

Nabil Achahbar

The previously mentioned nurse Najib Bouzambou, who was at the hospital when El Attabi arrived there, was given access to the X-ray photographs of Imad El Attabi showing the bullet in his head. Bouzambou was arrested by the Moroccan police on the afternoon of Sunday 13 August 2017 and taken to the police station where he was humiliated, scolded, beaten and abused by Arab-speaking executioners. Najib Bouzambou was sentenced to 2 years in prison.

Najib Bouzambou

Younes Fathi, who was 20 years old at the time, had contact with the witness Abdelhak Al Fahsi who mentioned his name in the trial verbally. Fathi comes from the same region as Fahsi. For this reason Fathi was arrested in September 2017 and was convicted during a show trial for, among other things, taking part in an unauthorised demonstration, funding from abroad. Younes Fathi was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.

Younes Fathi

In an interview the Moroccan Minister for Human Rights Mustapha Ramid denied in all tones that there had been deaths during the Rif protest movement (Hirak Rif). In fact, he denied that the Moroccan police who had been specially sent to the Rif had any ammunition at their disposal. That this is a huge lie is clear from a trial verbally drawn up by the judicial police following the fire in a police building in Imzoueren, where it is stated in black and white that this police unit had various weapons and types of ammunition at its disposal.

However, the King of Morocco Mohammed VI praised the bloody behaviour of his police officers in the Reef during his annual speech from the throne on 29 July 2017, more than a week after the death of Imad El Attabi. In doing so, he resolutely rejected all criticism of the police action.

The entire funeral ceremony of Imad El Attabi was directed by the Moroccan regime, nobody else had anything to say about it, including his family. Today, three years later, the actual cause of Imad El Attabi’s death has still not been made public, so no serious investigation has been done into it.

Link to video of El Attabi’s funeral (RIF/NL)

Link to video of Achehbar kidnapping

Link to translated speech from the throne King of Morocco, 29 July 2017 (EN/AR)

Link to full speech Mohammed VI on 29 July 2017 (English)

Translated by: Najat M.


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